Shelterbelt Varieties for Alberta - Chokecherry

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 Plant characteristics | Fall colour | Site preference | Hardiness | Uses | Problems | Diseases | Insects | Pruning ]

Scientific Name: Prunus virginiana L.

Plant Characteristics

Chokecherry is a large, deciduous shrub to small tree growing to a mature height of 4 to 8 m (13 to 26 ft), with a spread of 5 m (17 ft), and an annual growth of 10 to 50 cm (4 to 20 in.). The six - year - old and older wood should be removed to promote vigorous growth and fruiting of the shrub.

Flowers - Chokecherry flowers at the same time as it leafs out. The flowers are 8 to 10 mm (0.25 to 0.38 in.) across, white, in dense racemes, 7 to 15 cm (2.5 to 6 in.) long.

Fruit - Fruit very astringent, about 8 mm (0.25 in.) across, dark purple; stone smooth.

Leaves - Leaves broadly elliptic to obovate, sharply serrulate, glabrous or nearly so beneath; 4 to 12 cm (1.5 to 5 in.) long.
Propagated by seed.

Fall Colour

Leaves red-brown to yellow.

Site Preference

Chokecherry prefers a loam soil, can withstand some shade, and will survive while exposed to short periods of low moisture. It grows wild along riverbanks, thickets and open woods.


They will survive under extreme climate exposure.


Chokecherries can be planted 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) between plants in the row, and 5 to 8 m (17 to 26 ft) between rows.


Suckering habit can be controlled by cultivation.

Reported to cause occasional poisoning of sheep and cattle through the hydrocyanic content of the leaves, especially after frost.


Susceptible to black knot (fungus). Control by pruning and burning removed portions.


Chokecherry midge, ugly nest caterpillar, fruit leafroller, prairie tent caterpillar.


Removal of older stems will give better fruit.

Shelterbelts Varieties for Alberta provides information on a number of other trees and shrubs than may be suitable for shelterbelts.

Visit our website directory for the Reforestation Woodlot Listings.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Toso Bozic.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on May 4, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on December 18, 2017.